Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Seinfeld DVDs

Atlast I got to see the Seinfeld DVDs. The "specials" in the DVDs are worth the price of the DVD set. It comes like a big box set and it has a salt n pepper stand etc. It even has a book that has the seinfeld script. There is a "notes about nothing section" where some trivia appears as subtitles when the episode is going on. Each episode also has a run along audio commentary by Jerry or Larry David or someone.

The best is the "Inside Look" on almost every episode. where the cast and the crew explain certain interesting incidents surrounding a particular episode. There is a Mega three part "How it all Began" at the end of season two DVD, where the writers and actor talk about how they assembled the Seinfeld team.

Sometimes its amazing how destiny unites completely unrelated people into a single path. This never ceases to amaze me. Apparently they'd decided to cast Jerry to play Jerry himself and they were looking for someone to play George. Seeing this DVD confirmed to me that George is indeed a caricature of a specific personality aspect of Larry David. My impressions on the following key members of the cast are as follows;

Jerry Seinfeld:: There are a lot of praises said about Jerry but the thing I like about Seinfeld is his complete detachment from all emotions and sensitivities. Again it falls in the "easier said than done" category. This fellow seems to be untouched by the mediocrity other human beings undergo by becoming emotional. I was raised to believe that "emotions maketh a human being". Jerry was apparently not taught that. He seems just too rational. I saw snippets of Jerry appearing on the tonight show and boy! was he raw and rusty?

George / Jason Alexander:: Seriously! I have always said George carried the Seinfeld show on his back. He dominated the screen presence in Seinfeld and would have probably spoken atleast 40% of the dialogs written for Seinfeld, the maximum by an individual actor. The way he parses the words when Jerry says a girl might be dropping in to stay with him. He says ""Had to come in" and "maybe we'll get together"? "Had to" and "Maybe"?". This is an actor par excellence. The man is really really talented. It seems he was selected for the show after he auditioned through a video tape for the script written for the Pilot Episode. He thought this show will never pick up anyway and so did a "Woody Allen" imitation. No wonder he is a theater actor brought up in the classical school. Nobody can accentuate the words like the way george does and bring out the range of emotions like the way he does. To me he is the best in the Seinfeld ensemble. I heard he never got an Emmy. Well too bad for the Emmys.

Kramer/Michael Richards:: So I learned that Kramer is modelled on Larry David's real next door neighbor called Kramer. The real Kramer was an equally whacky fellow. Again the DVD showed Michael Richards at the time he appeared in "The Tonight Show" , he was more the Jerry Lewis slap stick variety and he definetly made Jay Leno laugh. He seems pretty articulate though in the interviews. He also was nice when he expressed genuine fear of being written out of seinfeld when he didnt find a part in the "The Chinese restaurant".

Elaine/Julia Lewis Dreyfuss: She got picked up becuse Larry David knew her from SNL days. She reminds me of my ex-professor Joanne Degroat ( Degroat was more plump). I am sure some ( atleast one) of my readers will disagree (you know who you are) with this comment. But I got that feeling when I saw the interviews.

Larry David: This fellow is the Howard Roark of the television world. I respect him more after seeing these DVDs. Here is a fellow who did not compromise easily and was willing to say "up yours" to NBC executives if they didnt accede to his demands. The DVDs are not clear how much of the show was the way Larry David wanted it to be. But the parts which the said was forced on them by NBC seemed to be the weakest parts of the show. Most of the episode plots were from Larrys own experience. "George shouting at his boss and quitting and then going back to office the next day as if nothing happened" - real life incident :-) SO larry David is a whacky guy for sure.

The NBC Executives: I do not know why usually the management ( or the guys with the money) become "them" in the "us" Vs "them" battle. NBC executives come off pretty poor in the creativity section of seinfeld. It appears they were conservative and opposed every creative/radical move by Larry David. I am not sure how good/successfull the show might have been had they (a) allowed Larry to have his own way (b) ran the show their own conservative way. Larry Speaks of NBC executives in a bad light (" the creativity superssors"), whereas seinfeld (as usual) takes the practical approach and says, " they gave us a shot! thats all we could ask for".

This is definetly the most radical, rebellious TV series I had seen. Simpsons maybe in the same wavelength but that its animated takes away some of its credit. I am eagerly awaiting the next installment of DVDs.

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